Atlanta's Missing and Murdered: The Lost Children: Season 1 (2020)

Season 1
Atlanta's Missing and Murdered: The Lost Children

Critics Consensus

Atlanta's Missing and Murdered: The Lost Children's thorough examination of an unsettling circumstance is as gripping as it is chilling.



Critic Ratings: 18


Audience Score

User Ratings: 14

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Air date: Apr 5, 2020

Known as "The City Too Busy To Hate," in the 1970s Atlanta is on the rise, fueled by excitement over the election of the city's first black mayor. Below the surface, however, long-held racial and economic divisions are percolating. When African American children begin disappearing and showing up dead, the city is on the verge of an unprecedented crisis. Outraged that their elected leaders seem more concerned with maintaining Atlanta's image than with protecting the city's children, members of the black community, led by Camille Bell, the mother of one of the slain boys, call for swift action. An explosion at a local daycare center leaves five dead, and their frustration reaches a fever pitch.

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Air date: Apr 12, 2020

By 1980, as distrust in the police and city officials deepens, citizens organize to protect their neighborhoods and take matters into their own hands. When a volunteer search party finds a slain child in an area local police canvassed a day earlier and more and more children continue to disappear, the FBI is called to step in. But even the Feds seem to make little headway, and conspiracy theories of who might be behind the murders take root, from the Klan to a cult to pedophilia. We learn more about Wayne Williams, a local talent scout, who might have been recruiting some of the victims.

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Air date: Apr 19, 2020

With the city's reputation on the line, and the murder count rising, law enforcement faces immense pressure to make an arrest. On May 22, 1981, an FBI stakeout of the city's bridges leads investigators to 23-year-old Wayne Williams, who becomes the main suspect in the killings and is promptly arrested in connection to the murders of two men in their 20s. As Williams' trial gets underway in January 1982, victims' family members, the press and the public descend on the courthouse to witness the trial of a case that has grabbed headlines across the country.

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Air date: Apr 26, 2020

In a move that stuns Wayne Williams' defense attorney, Mary Welcome, prosecutors introduce pattern evidence mid-trial that they assert links him to ten of the child murders. Drawing predominantly on hair and carpet fibers found on the victims that allegedly match items in Williams' car and home, the jury delivers a swift guilty verdict in February 1982. Just days later, the Atlanta police department shuts down the task force investigating the 30 murders, and attributes most of the cases to Wayne Williams. A year later, as the dissent of an unconvinced community grows louder, the Georgia Supreme Court makes the controversial decision to deny Williams' plea for a retrial.

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Air date: May 3, 2020

In the mid-1980s, Wayne Williams' appeals attorney Lynn Whatley anonymously receives shocking new evidence connecting members of the Klan to the murders. An undercover informant and several investigators take the stand as a judge evaluates Williams' plea for a retrial. Forty years after the murders began, the victims' family members gather to grieve, discuss Williams' guilt or innocence, and assert their unwavering commitment to finding out what really happened to their children.

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Tv Season Info

News & Interviews for Atlanta's Missing and Murdered: The Lost Children: Season 1

Critic Reviews for Atlanta's Missing and Murdered: The Lost Children Season 1

All Critics (18) | Top Critics (7)

Atlanta's Missing and Murdered does justice to a couple of the criticisms... But the HBO series also succumbs to the imperatives of a plot-twist narrative. It seems driven more by the need to entertain than a desire to get at the truth.

Apr 17, 2020 | Full Review…
Top Critic

Unsettling and engrossing, "Atlanta's Missing and Murdered" is a must watch. It will leave audiences baffled and enraged over how justice for these wicked, unusually extreme crimes, has yet to be properly served.

Apr 14, 2020 | Rating: A | Full Review…

It is remarkably detailed and, most of all, compassionate in the way it approaches this story.

Apr 3, 2020 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

Atlanta's Missing also offers a timely illustration of the dysfunctions that can arise within the US's fragmented legal and governmental structures.

Apr 14, 2020 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

The series brings new evidence to the table while pushing new questions, important questions, related to the racial tensions and political clashes that brought Atlanta to a boiling point during this tragedy.

May 29, 2020 | Full Review…

There is much to recommend about The Lost Children, but if for nothing else, watch it for the heart of the matter: a group of women I don't think I'll ever forget, portrayed here with such respect and compassion.

Apr 30, 2020 | Full Review…

What the series does brilliantly is showing various vantage points -- giving the viewer enough information to decide what side they're on.

Apr 30, 2020 | Full Review…

This documentary series is a punch in the stomach. It will make you angry. It is also heartbreaking and will make you sad, occasionally physically hurt.

Apr 30, 2020 | Full Review…

Murdered and Missing is a vital education for anyone interested in a pivotal, incredibly volatile moment in the city's history, one that still haunts and informs our present.

Apr 20, 2020 | Full Review…

Missing and Murdered is no-holds-barred TV with no easy answers. The way true-crime is meant to be seen.

Apr 20, 2020 | Rating: A- | Full Review…

Hundreds of black children go missing without a trace. But one summer in ATL changed everything. Sam Pollard and Maro Chermayeff delicately share stories of victims, family, the accused and details being the most infamous murder in recent history

Apr 11, 2020 | Full Review…

Well-balanced in its voices, clear of narrative and tough as nails - just as it absolutely needs to be.

Apr 7, 2020 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Atlanta's Missing and Murdered: The Lost Children: Season 1

  • Aug 21, 2020
    It is a must watch especially with the current societal look at the justice system. Good macro and micro view on the impact of these killings. The conviction each side has on who is or is not guilty is interesting. You can see implicit biases in some of the cops and some cops who get in trouble for being whistleblowers(essentially). Overall does a good job with balancing perspectives.
  • May 10, 2020
    Having been covered extensively in Mindhunter ( and enumerate tv series ), it sadly brought little, if anything, to conclusion. It just seemed to be a reminder of what we already knew about the institutional racism and political corruption in Atlanta. Which is a real shame, I was expecting some renewed vigour or revelations that would make a promisingly good start to the documentary, bear some fruit. It was a tiny harvest.
  • May 06, 2020
    The series itself is very informative about the facts of this horribly sad chapter in Atlanta's history in which more than 20 black children and young adults were abducted and murdered in 1979-1981. The use of archival footage makes the series much more factually accurate and enjoyable than the typical actor recreations of true crime documentaries. The series spent a great deal of time on the heartbreaking plight of mothers of murdered children looking for answers, and not getting a great deal from the city leaders. Highly recommended for anyone with interest in this subject matter. This series, and other treatment of the Atlanta Child Murders/Wayne Williams case, have cropped up due to Atlanta's current mayor requesting a re-opening of these old files, apparently to determine whether all of the cases should be attributed to Wayne Williams, or to someone else. The way in which the cases were closed once Wayne Williams was convicted was suspect, and probably very politically expedient for the time to be able to say "killer caught, case closed." Unfortunately, Ep. 5 is more about presenting claims of other possible killers for a couple of the victims, some bordering on conspiracy theories. While it may be correct that Williams may not have committed ALL of the murders, and we will likely never know, it seems as if this may give impetus to a "Free Wayne Williams" movement, which I simply do not believe is justified. Although the creators claimed that they didn't set out to exonerate Williiams by the series, they claim that they just arrived at that ending based upon following the story. I watched the series from start to finish, and while there may be holes in the Williams-as-sole-killer theory (and there are always holes in every murder case), I believe a murderer is in prison.
  • Apr 06, 2020
    Powerful, disturbing and utterly riveting. 30 kids murdered with no closure for the families; it just breaks your heart. It is an absolute must watch. This will leave you confused and incensed, as to why no one was brought to justice for these heinous, indescribable crimes. I was also upset with myself for not knowing more about this dark chapter in US history. I will absolutely watch the entire series with my entire family.

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